I’m Jennifer, a registered nurse, health writer, and mom to three kiddos. This post, “Emergency Supply Kit Checklist: Preparing for a Pandemic,” was written to help you and your family prepare for an emergency. Make sure to plan for the unexpected and be ready!
Emergency Supply Kit Checklist and Preparing for a Pandemic
In any emergency, including the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the first thing you should do is remain calm.
Yes, the threat of the global spreading of this disease is severe.
Still, there are actionable steps you can take to help ease the impact of this disease on you and your family members.
Make it a point to stay informed of the latest developments from medical experts and official health agencies.
Also, stocking up on necessary items can go a long way in helping to control the chaos of a pandemic in your home and your community.
What is the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)?
COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that is caused by a microbe called SARS-CoV-2.
Even though this virus is similar to SARS and MERS, this particular germ is zoonotic.
It may have initially transferred to humans via an animal (like a bat).
Additionally, per information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to fourteen days after being exposed to the pathogen.
These symptoms can include:
- Trouble breathing
And, even though the infection is usually mild, it can cause severe respiratory distress.
This pathogen is especially harsh on the elderly population or immune-compromised people and can result in death.
What is a Pandemic?
A pandemic is an infectious disease that infects and spreads over a large portion of the globe.
This wide-spread illness puts millions of people at risk of contracting the disease.
And, although pandemics occur infrequently, planning and preparing are imperative to ensure an effective response.
How can a Pandemic Affect the Population?
Pandemics are somewhat scary and disruptive, and can sometimes lead to:
- Travel bans and restrictions
- Schools and daycares closing
- Business closings
- Weakened economies
- Confusion, misinformation, and panic
How to Prepare for a Pandemic
There are steps you can take to help minimize the chaos of a pandemic for you and your family.
First, take a few deep breaths and remain calm.
Panicking can cause people to make impulsive decisions and put you and others at risk.
Get Fact-Based Information
It’s times like these when some people like to go online and spread unverified rumors.
To educate yourself on accurate, up-to-date health information read up on authoritative sites like the following:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
- the World Health Organization (WHO),
- your state government, and
- local health department websites
Also, if you plan on traveling during a pandemic check websites like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for any travel restrictions or travel bans.
Before an emergency occurs, prepare ahead by buying at least two to four weeks’ worth of supplies for you and your family.
Below is a list of emergency supply kit essentials to help you prepare for the unexpected.
Pandemic Preparedness Essentials
Before a disease becomes a pandemic, and in preparation for other disasters, every household needs an emergency supply kit to last at least two weeks to a month.
As we have seen before, and in the last few weeks, retail chains and grocery stores can get cleaned-out pretty quickly when communities panic.
Buying additional products, a few items each week can help ensure that you always have what you need.
Emergency Supply Kit Essentials to Keep at Home
Don’t forget to include your PETS for food and water supply.
- Water – One gallon per person/pet per day, enough for two to four weeks
- Water filter straws, water treatment tablets
- Non-perishable food** (2 to 4 week supply – expanded list at the bottom)
- Manual can-opener
- Medications – Prescription and over-the-counter meds (one month supply)
- First Aid Kit (here is my home kit, plus a printable check-off list)
- Hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes
- Liquid Soap
- Multivitamins, minerals, and probiotics
- Cleaning supplies (bleach, scrubbers, paper towels or cleaning cloths)
- Disposable plates, cups, and utensils
- Trash bags (I like to keep the larger, heavy-duty ones on-hand)
- Small plastic bags
- Toiletries (toilet paper, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine products, etc.)
- Flashlight (batteries)
- Radio (battery-powered or hand-crank)
- Cell phone and chargers
- Lighters or waterproof matches
- Fire extinguisher, flares, a whistle
- Basic tool kit (hammer, nails, screwdrivers, pliers, wrench, crowbar)
- Cash, paper, pens, permanent marker
- Scissors, a pocket knife
- Possibly a portable generator
- Extra bedding, blankets, clothing, and shoes
* Examples of non-perishable foods:
- Canned foods (fruits, vegetables, soups, fish, poultry)
- Dried fruits and vegetables
- Nut butter and jelly
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains (oats, rice, crackers, barley)
- Granola and protein bars
- Shelf-stable and non-dairy milk
Other Emergency Supply Kit Items:
- For a baby – formula, diapers, baby wipes, baby food, etc.
- For children – board games, paper and crayons, books, and toys
Emergency Supply Kit Storage
Place items in a waterproof container and store them in a cool, dry location.
And, make sure everyone in your home knows where your emergency items are stored.
Ready.gov states you should use 16 drops of bleach to treat one gallon of water.
Also, they advise against using bleach that is scented, color-safe, or has additional cleaners added.
To stay prepared for possible emergencies, FEMA recommends rotating food, water, medications, and batteries every six months.
And, be sure to swap out clothing seasonally and as children grow.
In the same way, fire extinguishers also need to be checked regularly.
Pandemic Preventive Measures
To prevent catching an infectious disease, take the following precautions:
- Avoid crowded spaces and sick people.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
- Do not touch your face, mainly your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue – then dispose of properly.
- Stay healthy – eat nutritious foods, get plenty of sleep, stay up to date on all vaccinations.
- Stay home if you are sick.
Plan, Prepare and Be Ready
While planning for a pandemic can be scary and stressful, it’s vital to remain calm.
Likewise, preparing for such a threat is an essential priority for every human being.
As we have seen in history, communities pull together and grow stronger during difficult times.
And, we can find strength by helping our family and neighbors, staying informed, and being prepared for all emergencies.
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